I Don't Like Mondays — November 30, 2015
There is much anxiety in the Land of the Blue Jays over the disposition of late-season pitching acquisition David Price. His shortcomings in the postseason notwithstanding, Price is expected to receive a financial package worthy of a small nation’s GDP in free agency. The going number seems to be $30 million per for seven years, which will be paid in George Washingtons (So tack on another 35-40 cents on the dollar exchange that Toronto’s baseball club will pay if it decides to sign him).
Public opinion is divided into two camps. First, can the Jays win the World Series without Price? If the answer is no, pay him the going rate and jack up the price of the already usurious beers in Chateau Rogers. Conversely, Toronto lost with Price, he’s in his 30s, you can get several players for his price tag (excuse the pun) and still jack up the price of the already usurious beers in Chateau Rogers.
If you somehow outbid Boston et al for Price, the Jays will pretty much be left to window shopping for any other help (With the contracts of all the Jays’ everyday players under team control, we are talking here of the pitching that John Gibbons ran out of late in the year and postseason).
If you don’t, you can stroll the free agency plaza at will this winter. The Jays did that this week, picking up former Jay J.A. Happ, a lefty hurler. Which probably answers the Price question right there.
Implicit in all this cogitating and ruminating is the idea that the Jays new president Mark Shapiro must do all this shopping before spring training or even before the start of the season. We at IDLM think they would be hasty to empty the bank this winter. Waiting may prove the best strategy.
Here’s the rationale: Are any of the Eastern Division foes going to run away and hide early from Toronto? If there’s a destiny squad, you’re not going to do much about it. If not, play a pat hand till June, then plunge into the player acquisition mode. As Toronto discovered under its former GM… what was his name anyway?… there is much low-hanging fruit at this time. Clubs that have flopped are eager to dump high-salaried players on willing buyers.
Remember Price? Troy Tulowitzki? Ben Revere? Mark Lowe? Blue Jays fans do, and they know what happened when the former GM… what was his name anyway?… picked them up for a few prospects in midseason. Often, you don’t even have to give up much if you just relieve their financial burdens.
So, let the impulsive and lame spend all their money in the winter on a few big names. There will be plenty of time and plenty of capable players come midseason— if you have saved your bankroll.
The Grey Cup game, with all its cheerful silliness and homespun values, has passed for another year. Edmonton prevails. Good year for the Alberta capital as it gets Rachel Notley’s spend-and-tax regime along with the Coupe Grey. Good for fans as Chris Cuthbert got the play-by-play call over The Rod Black Breathless Commentary Machine (“Have you ever?…). Good that Ottawa is back in the league with a vengeance.
Quibbles: Fall Out Boy? Really? Could they not get a Canadian halftime act? Last time we looked there were a couple of locals who can carry a tune. Could they have gotten that Mountie carrying the Cup a uniform that fit? Could they take a second run a re-designing the CFL logo? C’mon, Jake, it’s just Canada Town.
So far, all we have is the new CFL logo to point the way to what happens in 2016.
As we have said often, 2015 was a get-along year for the CFL as it transitioned between commissioners and, crucially, as it finally got the moribund Toronto franchise out of Rogers Centre and out of the parsimonious hands of David Braley.
Is it too late? The league was clobbered by the Blue Jays and the collapse of Toronto/ Saskatchewan, with TSN’s ratings dropping a whopping 15 percent. Some sports executives, such as former MLSE head David Peddie, think the league may have permanently fallen into second-class status as a property, referencing the rise of soccer as a TV and recreational alternative — poor signs for the CFL.
Pounding the league as well is the decision by the NFL to add two more payers to its practice squads and the deterioration of the loonie for U.S. players who earn Canadian currency. This will make it harder to obtain and hold onto American players.
And still, amidst the gloom, we had the vigor of the Vanier Cup and CIS football to belie that deathbed theory. The standard of play in the thrilling UBC win over Université de Montreal showed how far the skill level has come at the recreational level in the country. Although virtually ignored, the CIS brand has thrived across the country — in Quebec especially — and shows that good athletes are still choosing the sport.
The new regime of beneficent alumni donors has been a key in many schools (the Molsons have been generous at U de M), allowing former CFL head coaches like Danny Maciocia, Steve Buratto and Jim Daley to upgrade the instructional level. There is some concern that this philanthropy might hurt there smaller schools, especially in the Maritimes, but for now it’s a boon.
So don’t bury Canadian football just yet. It has survived worse. And a logo re-design.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy @NPBroadcaster